Tuesday, March 23, 2010

12 Weeks to Better Photography- Week Five

I like to joke that the first rule in photography is to always keep your composure. This little play on words is true on several levels--when you're doing a photo shoot, you always have to be able to roll with the unexpected. But it's also important to make sure that your photos are composed well...because that's one thing that's much harder to fix than a lot of other aspects of photography.

I think that I usually have a pretty good eye for composure. This week, I decided to go back through some of my favorite photos, and see if I used any of the suggestions for composition from this week's lesson. I was happy to find that I did!

The Rule of Thirds: 

I tend to approach the rule of thirds a little differently than some people--rather than say that the face/focal point should be located at a point of intersection, I like to go with the approach that the bulk of the focal point should lie within three adjacent squares. For me, those adjacent squares ideally span two columns. Also, I'll never forget something that I heard over and over in DECA--that the eye is naturally drawn down and to the right, so it's best to place the important stuff in the lower right hand corner. I find that when I use the rule of thirds, I often place my focal point in that area.

Try A New Perspective:

Under this category, the lesson suggested using footprints or other lines to draw the eye to the photo. I think that the roads and linear graphics of the book do a nice job of drawing the eye up to Logan in this one.

Fill the Frame:

Last week in my "Photo of the Day" post, I pictured one of my favorite photos from a mini-session. Here's what I didn't say--the version that I posted wasn't the original. This was:

I still like the original, but there was something yellow in the original that kept catching my eye and drawing it away from this sweet girl. Also, her mom really wanted some portrait-like shots. So, a simple crop "filled the frame", and I ended up with this:

Keep it Simple--Eliminate Distractions: 

Since getting the nifty fifty lens, I find that I mostly do this with bokeh. In other words, I tend to shoot with an aperture setting that will give me a shallow depth of field, or a small point of focus. This blurs out the background (in this case, a very busy restaurant), and allows the attention to be drawn to the subject of your choosing. I guarantee that if I had shot this with a wider depth of field, it would have seemed really busy, and the focus would easily be drawn away from Lizzy.

As far as rules of composure that I break, I broke one that actually wasn't discussed in this lesson, but it's called "limb chopping". Basically, the idea is that when you're taking pictures, someone's limb should never be "chopped" out of a photo. If the head is in the picture, the whole head must be in the picture. If the arm is in the picture, the hand must be as well. And so on. I break this rule a lot. I admit that sometimes, this can make someone look like an amputee. But sometimes, I like how it looks. For example, the picture above of Logan (Try a New Perspective) would be considered "limb chopping" because the top of his head isn't in the picture. I guess now that I've pointed it out, it would probably be better if his whole head were in the picture, but did you really notice before I said anything?  The same is true of just about all of the shots in my post "The Counter Sessions", two posts ago--elbows are cut off, tops of heads are cut off, and so on. But to me, that doesn't matter, because it's the face and eyes that are the focus of the picture, not the elbows!

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